Patriots

Brian Flores left ‘millions of dollars’ on table by not signing NDA with Dolphins

"Signing that separation agreement would have really silenced me."

Brian Flores
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on against the New York Jets during an NFL football game. AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File

In an interview on HBO with Bryant Gumbel on Tuesday, Brian Flores and his lawyers said he left “millions” of dollars on the table by refusing to sign an NDA as part of his separation agreement with the Dolphins after he was fired.

Flores — who appeared on “Real Sports” with Gumbel on Tuesday — filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three teams following the surprise move last month. He and his lawyers Doug Wigdor and John Elefterakis, who appeared on the show as well, confirmed that Flores had an opportunity to make a lot of money if he had been willing to quietly accept his termination.

Advertisement:

“It was millions of dollars,” Elefterakis said.

Wigdor said the NDA would have lasted two years, noting that coaches don’t get paid for the last year or two of their contract unless they sign a waiver, an NDA and a non-disparagement agreement. Flores refused to sign any of it.

“It wasn’t about the money,” Wigdor said. “If it was about the money, he would have signed it. What he did instead was he filed this lawsuit so that he could help other coaches, now and in the future.”

Flores agreed.

“Signing that separation agreement would have really silenced me,” he said.

Gumbel pushed Flores and his lawyers on whether they had evidence of Flores’ claim that the Dolphins offered him money to lose. Wigdor said they “definitely” have corroborating evidence, which they would be willing to share with the league apart from their lawsuit. Dolphins owner Steve Ross has vigorously denied the allegation.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Flores said. “I’m the one who had the most to lose here.”

For Flores, who said he has two young boys who are just starting to learn about racism in America, the last few weeks have been a “whirlwind of emotions.” He was fired by the Dolphins, then he filed suit against the NFL after Patriots coach Bill Belichick accidentally sent him a text message that led Flores to the conclusion the Giants were only interviewing him to fulfill their Rooney Rule diversity requirements. Flores thought he might never work in football again after he filed suit, but a conversation with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin — one of the few Black head coaches in the NFL — led to a job offer.

Advertisement:

Flores balked slightly when Gumbel asked if he felt like Tomlin threw him a lifeline.

“I’m a very capable coach in this league,” Flores said. “But I do feel like he saw a situation where there was a very experienced coach who could help his staff, who was also a Black coach in the league. And I think that kind speaks to what we’re talking about.”

Flores added that he believes most NFL owners believe and understand that there is a diversity problem in the league.

“I think they’d all answer ‘yes,’ each one of them,” Flores said. “But individually, I think they would sit there and say, ‘Well, I personally don’t have that problem.’ And I think that’s where we have an issue.”

To fight against Flores’ case, the NFL hired former US attorney general Loretta Lynch — the first Black woman to hold that office in American history. Both Flores and his attorney were careful to say they respect Lynch.

Still: “I’ve known Loretta for some time,” Wigdor said. “Our hope is that she’s here to make change, and not to defend the case and litigate the case. …

“Hopefully she uses her vast experience to everyone’s advantage. In other words, to tell the NFL, to tell the owners, ‘This is the way it needs to be done.’ If they brought her in to litigate this case and to take Brian’s deposition, game on. But it’s unclear what her role is.”

Advertisement:

Gumbel asked if they believe the NFL hiring Lynch was a “colorblind” decision.

“I knew Johnnie Cochran,” Wigdor said. “And he used to say he’d go around the country in race discrimination cases, and all the time the defendant would choose a Black lawyer.”

As the interview wrapped up, Gumbel asked if Flores and the lawyers expect the case to go to trial, where the NFL — which is notoriously private about its finances — would have to disclose its books.

“We’re ready to go,” Elefterakis said. “And obviously as Brian and Doug said, we’re sitting here willing to talk, to discuss with Ms. Lynch and the NFL about how to make change. But if it does, we’re absolutely ready. It’s not an issue — we’re ready for discovery. For the text messages, the emails, the discovery demands that will go out. So we’re prepared for that.”

“And what we don’t want is fluff policies, smoke and mirrors,” Flores added. “We’re looking for — I’m looking for — real change. We’re talking about the National Football League, but it’s really a microcosm of the United States.”

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com